Community Art Boxes

A Civic Dialogue Initiative of the Thomas Memorial Library


The Thomas Memorial Library is one of twelve libraries in the country to receive a grant from the American Library Association, supported by The Estée Lauder Companies WRITING CHANGE initiative. The grant, which supports ALA’s Civic Imagination Station Pilot program, makes it possible for librarian and artist teams to develop community-based art projects that encourage civic dialogue.

TML Director Rachel Davis teamed up with local artist Marie Ahearn to apply for the grant. Through a series of workshops and coaching sessions with the entire cohort, Davis and Ahearn developed our Community Art Box project, which consists of mini-galleries located around the Cape Elizabeth town center.

The Community Art Boxes display monthly exhibits and artwork created by community members, often united around a common idea or theme. Since last fall, the library has been offering monthly workshops to help community members create artwork in different media, although some exhibits will be displays of treasured or meaningful items (such as those representing family traditions.) 

Coming Up

We are making plans for art-related programs and resources related to this project. Please fill out the form below if you are interested in shaping the future of our Community Art Box project!

Community Art Box Interest Group
If you would like to be receive news about this project and/or learn about ways you can be involved, please fill out this form.

About the Writing Change Initiative and the Civic Imagination Stations Project

WRITING CHANGE is a three-year global, literacy initiative in partnership with Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, award-winning writer, and Estée Lauder Global Changemaker. Civic Imagination Station Teams were selected from a national application process conducted in June and July 2022. In August, the teams began participating together in workshops and coaching led by Civic Imagination Stations Lead Artists: Willa J. Taylor, Goodman Theatre’s Walter Director of Education and Engagement; and Michael Rohd, founding Artistic Director of Sojourn Theatre and Co-founder of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice. Through these workshops, Civic Imagination Station cohort teams have been developing their own unique arts-based projects rooted in their respective communities. ALA intends for the Civic Imagination Stations program to model processes by which other librarian/artist partnerships can work together to create locally appropriate and meaningful civic imagination projects. 

The selected pilot cohort libraries are: 

  • Bowdoinham Public Library (Bowdoinham, ME)
  • Brandon Free Library (Brandon, VT)
  • Burnsville Public Library (Burnsville, WV)
  • Chicago Public Library Thurgood Marshall Branch (Chicago, IL)
  • Edith B. Siegrist Vermillion Public Library (Vermillion, SD)
  • Fayetteville Public Library (Fayetteville, AR)
  • IU Libraries: Neal Marshall Black Culture Center Library & Herman B. Wells Library (Bloomington, IN)
  • Memphis Public Libraries Cossitt Branch (Memphis, TN)
  • Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Library and Learning Commons, Mount Mary University (Milwaukee, WI)
  • The People’s Library (Fox, AR)
  • St. Louis Public Library (St. Louis, MO)
  • Thomas Memorial Library (Cape Elizabeth, ME)